Connecticut law recognizes that child support is an obligation shared by both parents. When families occupy the same household, support is assumed. However, when the parents live apart, measures must be taken to ensure each parent shoulders their share of the obligation. At Needle | Cuda, our Westport child support lawyers represent parents on both sides of the process.
We structure support arrangements that accurately reflect the parents’ financial means and the children’s specific needs. As your advocates, we make sure the court is fully aware of all circumstances that must be considered to reach a reasonable and fair decision.
Connecticut uses an “income shares” model of child support, based on state guidelines, that is designed to ensure that children are supported at the same level they would be if their parents lived together. Calculation of child support involves the following:
Once each parent’s obligation has been determined, the parenting plan provides for the actual payment of support. A parent who does not exercise any physical custody over the children pays all of his or her obligation to the custodial parent.
When custody is more or less equal, the higher-earning parent pays the difference in their obligations to the lower-earning parent.
Existing child support laws in Connecticut (for children without special needs) terminate child support awards when child attains the age of eighteen (18) — unless that child remains enrolled in high school. If a child remains in high school, child support can continue until the first to occur: high school graduation or the child attaining the age nineteen (19).
Existing laws, for a child who qualifies as “special needs”* allow a judge to extend child support awards through the age of twenty-one (21). The statute also provides flexibility to family judges to enter enhanced support orders that are specifically attuned to a particular child’s unique needs. (*see next section)
Changes in the law will be effective as of October 1, 2023. The same eligibility criteria already in place will apply under the new statute. The big change in the law is that child support orders will be able to be extended until a qualifying special needs child attains the age twenty-six years (26).
This change is an important recognition that special needs children can require support even longer in life, and allow family courts to provide relief on a case-by-case basis to address individualized children’s special needs, rather than requiring the strict application of Child Support Guidelines for qualifying special needs children.
An experienced divorce and family law firm can you explore both the existing and new child support laws to best provide for the needs of your child.
Child Support is considered to be the right of the child. It cannot be waived.
Parents can request that the court deviate from the guidelines to increase or decrease the support obligations. Grounds for an upward deviation include any unusual but necessary expenses, such as:
Connecticut state guidelines on child support are meant to provide for consistency in similar cases, thereby reducing litigation and appeals. However, you may find it necessary to contest a child support determination. For example, a parent may try to underreport his or her income for child support purposes, such as by manipulating records from a closely held business.
Conversely, as a paying parent you may feel the other parent is unfairly inflating expenses which are not necessary or in your child’s best interest, or which do not accurately relate to your child at all.
After a divorce or initial child custody/support action, you may have to litigate to enforce or modify child support. If a parent fails to meet their full court-ordered child support obligations despite having the means to pay, courts can take various enforcement measures, such as seizing bank assets or garnishing wages — and sometimes even ordering incarceration. Parents can petition the court to modify the support order based on proof of financial hardship, such as through loss of a job, or of other good cause, such as unexpected medical expenses.
Our firm ably assists in enforcement and modification proceedings.
Needle | Cuda represents clients in Fairfield County in child support matters. We provide highly professional yet personal representation focused on delivering positive results. To reserve a consultation, call us today at 203-557-9500 or contact our Westport office online.
No, if your child's father has another baby, your child support does not automatically go down.
The criteria for seeking a modification to child support is a 'material change in circumstances."
Broadly, Child Support is considered the right of the child.
Generally, the duty to pay court ordered child support ends when the child turns 18 years old.
There are a variety of exceptions to that general rule in Connecticut. For example, if a child remains high school, child support extends to the age of 19.
Additionally, Child support for qualified special needs children can extend to the age of 21.
Emancipation of a child ends child support obligations. In order to be emancipated by a Connecticut Court, you must be at least 16 years old and meet one of the following conditions:
1) be married,
2) be in the armed forces,
3) be living apart from your parents or guardian and be managing your own finances, or
4) the court must determine that an emancipation is in the child's best interests;
Child Support obligations do not end automatically in Connecticut (e.g. when a child turns 18 years old). To terminate court ordered Child Support, a motion to terminate child support must be filed in family court. And, you will have to go to the hearing. The court will consider all relevant factors including the needs of the child. the incomes of the parents, and the parent's ability to support the child.
Child Support is not tax-deductible to either parent. Therefore, it is important to take this into account when negotiating the terms of child support in your divorce.
A child's parents are obligated to pay Child Support in Connecticut. Child Support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent for the purpose of making a financial contribution to the child's needs.
This parental obligation exists regardless of whether or not parents are married, divorced, or were never married.